The Impure Left

April 18-24, 2011 was Digital Detox Week, conceived and encouraged by Adbusters, along with other campaigns (i.e. Buy Nothing Day, Blackspot shoes) to “reclaim our mental and physical environments.” I’ve always been impressed by the magazine’s design-savvy ads, whose sleek look share in the aesthetics of their corporate equivalent, the presumed enemy. In an obvious photo shoot in Midtown Manhattan, a group of businessmen are caught transfixed by newspapers and smart phones, blindly walking down the street. “It seems the more ‘connected’ we are, the more detached we become,” goes the abstract of the “Technoslave” article.

It’s endearing how adamant Adbusters is in their aversion to anything mainstream. Social networking has become rampant, and they earnestly wish for simpler times. If you roll over the article’s SHARE button, you’ll be presented with the option to Facebook it, print it, favorite it, Delicious it, Myspace it, email it, Tweet it, Google it, Digg it, Stumbleupon it, Messenger it, and dauntingly, “more…(335)” it. To “it” these things is grammatically correct, as they have become their own verbs in our new language of objectification. Personally, I like to fuck it, but that’s just me.

I’m obviously being rhetorical, and snarky. Adbusters is a nice publication and website, and it’s only efficient for the latter to have all these social widgets and feeds to promote their progressive agenda. However, the irony of doing so is just too easy to point out, and the editor’s cognizance (or lack thereof) is inevitably invoked. Does [s]he not see how you can’t simply tell us to share an article about how alienating digital seamlessness is?

In another Digital Detox Week ad, a young woman is dramatically lit in a dark room à la David Lynch by a laptop’s monitor; she is naked, which (optimistically) could be construed as a metaphor for lost innocence and our expulsion from Eden. Or maybe, per the subconscious mandate of all such ads, she is simply hot. Her computer is a Mac, because Macs are cool. The light is blank, because to have her looking at would be too, well, you know…

Adbusters wants you to subscribe at $39 a year (6 issues; $6.50 per issue.) Buy a two year subscription, and each issue drops to $4.83. The economics are simple, a tangible financial incentive to make a larger investment. This is called capitalism. With much respect, Adbusters has been doing a little bit of subscribing themselves — to the economics and aesthetics of a world that it opposes. Revolutions are fine, but they involve so much blood! The word “coup” contains a passive letter, if spoken correctly. Adbusters is a confirmation of the leftist ethos, rather than an organ of its evolution. Some coups may be passive after all.

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